TIME Crime

1 in 5 U.S. Women Are Raped at Some Point, Report Says

woman silo
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The majority experience sexual violence before age 25

About 1 in 5 women in the U.S. is raped during their life, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And another 40% experience another form of sexual violence.

“Although progress has been made in efforts to prevent sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence, these forms of violence continue to exact a substantial toll upon U.S. adults,” the CDC study said.

The problem of sexual violence is particularly acute at younger ages. More than half of female victims said they were violated before they reached age 25. This finding is consistent with a UNICEF report released Thursday that suggests that 1 in 10 girls worldwide is raped before age 20.

The CDC recommended a number of steps to combat sexual violence, including trying to change societal expectations and promoting safe relationships.

“The early promotion of healthy relationships while behaviors are still relatively modifiable makes it more likely that young persons can avoid violence in their relationships,” the report said.

TIME relationships

Kinky, Single New Yorkers Want Long-Term Relationships

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Vehicles drive past the Major Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership as the Empire State building stands in the background in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Domestic and total vehicle sales figures are scheduled to be released on Sept. 3. Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Can a survey of one dating app’s users be explained by the Big Apple’s kinkiness?

More than Chicagoans, more than Houstonians, more than Los Angelenos, single New Yorkers are on the hunt for long-term relationships. (News to us, yes!)

That’s according to a survey of 15,000 users of the dating app Clover, which matches users with other people nearby who like them (sort of the equivalent of Tinder, but with some added functionalities and without the dreaded accidental left swipe remorse.) The results—which, it must be stressed, are as unscientific as it gets—indicate a stark divide: Thirty-nine percent of New York City (NYC) respondents said they’re looking for a Long Term Relationship (LTR), compared to 27%, 25%, and 22% of those in Chicago, Houston, and LA, respectively.

For denizens of New York City, those results might be met with disbelief. My own experience and a quick survey of friends’ dating lives in New York confirms that, anecdotally at least, we think of New York City as a free-wheeling land of singles and casual sex. In the land of possibility, LTRs are like unicorns: mythical things that few have ever actually seen, which are presumed to be beautiful, yes, but also capable of making you feel like you’ve been trampled by hooves and spiked repeatedly through the gut.

“It can’t be done,” said one woman, when asked about having an LTR.

“I thought those were so 2005,” said another woman.

“Must have car and sailboat,” said another woman.

“I believe this is day 1,167 of my captivity,” said a male friend, who is in an LTR, so take from that what you will.

New York City’s zeitgeist Paper of Record, The Onion, reported in 2005 that Kirk and Deanna “surprised friends by exceeding second-quarter expectations” after Deanna “merged with Kirk six months ago.” This is despite the fact that “there was an exchange of liquid assets on the first date, which is suicide in this dating market (and) not the sort of thing that generally leads to a permanent merger.”

The old saw of how difficult it is to find lasting love in New York City is so deeply embedded in our culture that one of the most successful TV shows in the history of the known universe was created around exactly that question.

So what gives? Here’s one theory.

A sex survey of 1,100 New York Post readers (about 2/3 of them men) that came out Wednesday found that respondents are a pretty kinky bunch: Forty-seven percent admitted to sexting multiple times a day, 58% admitted to watching people have sex from their apartments, and 57% say they’ve done the deed in a cab, on the subway or on a bus (53% of these incidents occurred in Manhattan, in case you’re curious).

Maybe the sexual adventurousness of New Yorkers is driving them to seek out long-term partners with whom to get kinky. A 2012 study form the Journal of Sex Research found that the more the couples made changes in sexual behavior for one another, the happier they were. Hmm, just the sort of thing one is more likely to do in a long-term, committed relationship.

TIME feminism

Where Are All the Hacked Pics of Men?

2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals
Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, Calif. Venturelli—Getty Images

From Scarlett Johansson to Jennifer Lawrence, the victims of hack attacks are almost never men—part of a bigger problem with sexist internet culture

When I read the headlines that someone had hacked into Jennifer Lawrence’s phone and posted her private photos on the Internet — along with many other celebrities — my initial reaction was sadness. I felt awful for her, awful for them, and awful for anyone that could possibly happen to, ever. I imagined the same thing happening to me, and how humiliated I would be to have my personal life made excruciatingly public — how ashamed I would feel if untold numbers of people saw me in a context I meant to be private, always.

Then the shame brought me to anger: of course, the person who should feel ashamed is the one who stole the pictures. But anyone who is capable of such a thing is probably incapable of feeling shame. What would motivate someone to do this? It can’t be that you just want to see nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, because otherwise you’d get the photos, look at them, and be done with it. E-peeping would be bad enough, but at least she’d never have to know, and the rest of us would never have to talk about it or think about it. But to post them on the internet means that you’re not just disrespectful of other people’s privacy but that you actually disdain it, and want to violate it, and want the world to know that.

This latest piece of unsavory, repulsive news is part of a larger theme on the Internet. Women who write about feminism are harassed and stalked. Women tech execs are dismissed on double standards. Female gamers are threatened and belittled. It’s not really a surprise. The world is sexist; the internet is sexist. Maybe the internet is more so, because it is such a haven for cowards.

I wondered briefly if it might help if every Jennifer Lawrence or Ariana Grande or Mary Elizabeth Winstead fan in America posted a nude selfie, as a way of saying that we stand with them, and refuse to be humiliated. Or maybe we should just stop talking about about all the harassment because then they won’t get any attention. But then women would have to suffer in silence.

I just saw a tweet from someone who was really looking forward to seeing what awesome, cool, graceful way Jennifer Lawrence will manage to land on her feet about this. And while I don’t think the person who said this meant to be anything but kind, the tweet made me almost as sad as I was when I first read the news. Not only has Jennifer Lawrence been treated awfully by another human being — now she has to be a good sport about it. She is going to have to make it look like she’s bigger than what happened to her. I am not saying that she isn’t — of course she is, way bigger, just as all people harassed and bullied on the internet and elsewhere are far superior humans to the vermin who try to debase them. But what if Jennifer Lawrence uncharacteristically refused to be “cool” about this at all? What if she called a press conference and sobbed and rent her clothing and said “I am furious, I am angry, I am disgusted, and I beg, I beg, those men out there who spend their time insulting and humiliating and violating women to stop now.”

Sadly, whether Lawrence or the rest of them are blasé or passionate about this, it will have absolutely no impact on the person who did it. Or on all the people who think that he’s awesome, instead of a sad loser, someone closer to a rapist than a grossly misguided web fiend. No one capable of a violation like this has any real sensitivity to the victim. So whether Jennifer Lawrence wants to participate in a self-deprecating wink-wink sketch at next year’s Oscars or take a year off to go eat berries in the woods, well, she’ll probably get the best results from just doing whatever sounds most appealing to her and her alone. I really hope she doesn’t read anything about what she should or shouldn’t have done, because she didn’t do anything wrong. Like the rest of us privacy-respecting citizens, her biggest problem is that she is forced to share the planet with the likes of this excuse for a human being, who used all that talent and creativity for bad, in a world that so desperately needs it for good.

Sarah Miller also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME relationships

This Video Perfectly Describes How People Feel About Online Dating

To lie or not to lie?

Just because you’ve found a great relationship through online dating doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with admitting how you met. This video (which is actually made by underwear company Me Undies, so go figure) perfectly nails the embarrassment surrounding online dating, even if you’ve met someone great.

And even if you did meet online, do you tell your friends and family the real story of how you met? Or do you make up a “meet cute” story that resembles something out of an ’80s romantic comedy? Watch this underwear-clad couple duke it out over whether they should be embarrassed that they met online:

TIME Culture

Summer Confessions: Weight Loss, Finding Love and 11 Other Stories of Change

Summer is the time for transformation, even if you don’t have a first day of school in your future. We’re not sure why, but for some reason the summer months are when people tend to find love, lose weight and discover new things about themselves. Maybe it’s a leftover impulse from the school year, when everybody wanted to come back in September without braces.

Here are some of the best transformations we found when we asked Whisper users to describe how they’ve changed this summer in just three words.

For more summer transformations and stories, you can find Whisper here.

TIME Sex

Here’s What a 100-Year-Old Sex Therapist Thinks is Wrong With Sex Today

She says our hectic work lives are killing our sex lives

She was born before the invention of the stop sign, but sex therapist Shirley Zussman has some thoughts on ‘hooking up.’ “I don’t think it’s as frantic as casual sex was in the sixties,” she says, noting that modern ‘hooking up’ isn’t as exciting without the context of a sexual revolution. Besides, she adds: “In the long run, sexual pleasure is just one part of what men and women want from each other.”

At 100, Dr. Zussman is still a practicing sex therapist in New York City. In the 50-plus years since she began counseling people about all things related to sex, Dr. Zussman has witnessed everything from the legalization of the contraceptive birth control pill in 1960 (she started in sex therapy shortly afterwards) to the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s to the rise of internet porn in the new millennium.

She’s one of the oldest sex therapists in the world, but that might be the least extraordinary thing about her life and career. Born at the beginning of World War I, she graduated from Smith college in 1934, in the same class as Julia Child. Zussman was mentored through her graduate dissertation by Margaret Mead, and in the 1960s learned about sex therapy from Masters and Johnson, the inspiration for the Showtime series Masters of Sex. Her husband, a gynecologist, performed one of the first legal abortions in New York.

Here’s what she has to say about casual sex, cell phones, and how our hectic work lives are changing our attitudes toward sex.

On how being busy hurts your sex life:

“The use of time is very different in our society today. People are busy all the time. That was not true when I was growing up. At this stage of our development, we want to cover everything, we want to know everything, we want to do everything, and there’s also [our personal] economy which requires an immense amount of time and effort…There is a limit to how much energy and desire and time you can give to one person when there is all this pressure make more money, to be the CEO, to buy a summer house, people want more and more and more. Desire requires a certain amount of energy.

It’s a consequence of being exhausted…The most common problem I see is a lack of desire, a lack of interest. I had a patient say to me, ‘ I love my husband, I love making love to him, but I come home from work, I’ve been with people all day, I just want to crash.’”

On an increased openness about sex:

“I don’t think that the stigma around sex therapy exists like it was in the early years. People were ashamed they had to go to a psychiatrist or a social worker, because it means they needed help. Many people resist the idea that somebody needs to tell them how to have sex.”

“There were changes in the culture, too, there was the sexual revolution. There was the development of the pill, women were freer to let not worry so much about getting pregnant, there was every magazine and TV program talking about sex, there was every advertisement using sex to sell their product. There was an overwhelming immersion in the whole idea of getting more pleasure out of sex. It was not just about having babies.”

On what she learned from Masters and Johnson:

“They were recognizing that it was not all just glamorous and wonderful to be sexual, but that one almost had to learn to be a good partner…Their way of communicating was one of their greatest contributions, and that was not to talk so much about it, but to start with touching and caressing and stroking and kissing, and not rush for that golden bell in the middle of the carousel. It doesn’t start with the man having an erection and then you have intercourse, 1,2,3.”

And what she thinks of the TV show:

“I went to the preview party and met some of the actors in it. I was introduced to Michael Sheen, and he knew that I had known Masters and Johnson, so he said ‘tell me, how do you think I’m representing him?’ I said, ‘I think youre doing a pretty good job, but there’s a major difference.’ He said, ‘whats that?’ I said, ‘you’re handsome.’”

On her weirdest experience in 50 years of sex therapy:

“Someone called me and said he needed some help. He said ‘I’m a bad boy and I’m looking for someone for spankings.’ I had to make it clear that that’s not within my range of expertise.”

On the difference between casual sex in the 60s and ‘hooking up’ today:

“I think there’s a big change in the way we view casual sex. In the 60s it wasn’t just casual—it was frantic. It was something you expected to happen to you, you wanted it to happen, it was sort of a mad pursuit of sexual pleasure. But I think over time the disadvantages of that kind of behavior began to become apparent. There was the emotional crash– the intimacy was not there in the way that people need and want. There was a concern about sexual diseases, and then eventually AIDS made a major impact on calming that excitement.”

I think what was expected of casual sex – frantic sex– was something that didn’t deliver. Because in the long run, sexual pleasure is just one part of what men and women want from each other. They want intimacy, they want closeness, they want understanding, they want fun, and they want someone who really cares about them beyond just going to bed with them.”

I think hooking up includes some aspect of the kind of sex we were just talking about, but in a very much modified, and limited way. It’s not as frantic.”

On the popularity of oral sex:

“Oral sex was always part of the picture. I think primitive people learned how to get pleasure from oral sex, we just didn’t know about it. Oral sex was never talked about in your mother’s generation or my mother’s generation or my generation in the early days.”

On internet pornography:

“There’s nothing new about pornography. It’s been around since prehistoric days…I think that’s a healthy thing that people have the ability and the freedom to allow themselves to fantasize. But I have a number of patients who sit in front of the computer and watch pornography online, and somehow lose interest in seeking a partner. I see that a lot in some single men who don’t make the effort to go out in the world to face the issues, face the possible rejection—they satisfy their sexual needs sitting in front of the computer and masturbating.”

On living to be 100:

“We’ve been brainwashed to think that we all become couch potatoes when we’re old. You have to have expectations of yourself! You can make friends in many different ways, but you have to make the effort. You can’t say ‘oh , all my friends died,’ or ‘they’re sick,’ or ‘they don’t want to do what I want to do.’ You have to make an effort to find those new people. They don’t just come running to your door the way they might have when you were growing up.”

On the evils of cell phones:

“I’m shocked at the lack of connection between people because of iPhones. There is so much less of actual physical connection. There’s less touching, there’s less talking, there’s less holding, there’s less looking. People get pleasure from looking at each other. From a smile, and touching. We need touching to make us feel wanted and loved. That’s lacking so much in this generation. Lack of looking, lack of touching, lack of smiling. I don’t get it. I don’t get how people aren’t missing that, and don’t seem to think they are.”

 

 

 

TIME Sex

Don’t Be Afraid of Housework, Guys. It Won’t Lead to Less Sex

That’s what the latest research shows, calling into question earlier work that suggested that more equal roles in the home contributed to less fun in bed

Housework can be a downer, but when husbands pitch in to cook, clean and keep the abode tidy, it could also put a damper on their sex lives. So said researchers from the University of Washington in 2013. If husbands left the meals and toilet cleaning to their wives, they had sex nearly twice as much as husbands who performed these chores.

But Daniel Carlson, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University, and his colleagues say that study used data from the 1980s and 1990s, before more egalitarian roles in both in and outside of the home became the norm. Plus, other work suggested the opposite, and hinted that women often used sex as a reward for their husbands who performed chores, leading to more sex among men who picked up the laundry detergent. So he and his team looked at more recent data involving 487 couples enrolled in the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey to see if housework continued to have a chilling effect on sex.

To a certain extent, it did. Among couples where men shouldered most of the daily household chores, the sex was less frequent and less satisfactory, just as the 2013 study found. But in Carlson’s study, couples who shared housework more equally also reported having a healthy and happy sex life, as did couples in which women di most of the cooking and cleaning. “Where previous research said egalitarianism was the problem, and that couples with a more traditional division of labor seemed to be doing better, our study shows that egalitarian couples have in some respects caught up,” says Carlson. “Both [groups] are leading sex lives that are satisfying.”

The reason, he says, may have to do with the broader effect that sharing responsibilities have on a relationship. Couples who feel they are sharing the duties of raising a family and managing a household are more likely to be happy in their relationship, and that leads to more affection.

MORE: Chore Wars: How the Division of Domestic Duties Really Affects a Couple’s Sex Life

The results, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, won’t likely be the last word on understanding how gender roles within relationships affect sexual attraction, not to mention the strength of the bond between couples. But the research does hint that as evolved as we like to think we are about how equal men and women are when it comes to raising a family and running a household, we still have a ways to go before doing the dishes and scrubbing toilets are truly gender-blind tasks.

While more couples are accepting of situations when the husband and wife share in these duties, among couples in which the husband is bearing most of the burden of managing the home, social and cultural hurdles still exist. “When couples end up in an arrangement where the male is doing the majority of the housework, it’s not something that the couples tend to choose,” says Carlson. “They end up in the arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances such as the male partner losing his job, or the female getting a big raise that makes her the primary bread winner.” While these couples are relatively rare, making up only 5% of the study population, they may represent the final barrier to making housework not just a woman’s job.

MORE: Why Husbands Who Share Household Chores Miss Out on Sex

MONEY The Economy

Sex Keeps Getting Cheaper Around the Globe

Exterior of the Love Ranch at night
Brad DeCecco

The going rate for sex with a prostitute has plummeted in recent years, according to analysis from the Economist.

In 2006, the price for one hour of sex with a female prostitute averaged $340 around the globe. Today, the average rate is down to $260.

The Economist came up with this data after reviewing the online profiles and listings of 190,000 female sex workers in a total of 84 cities in 12 countries. There are several reasons cited for why the price of prostitution has fallen steadily in recent years, including the migration of poor sex workers into wealthier countries, which has pushed prices down. There’s also some indication that the increased availability of legal prostitution in countries such as Germany has put downward pressure on rates for paid sex.

Overall, the explanation for the decline in the price of sex boils to the same two factors that have affected so many other industries over the last decade or so: The responsibility (or blame, if you will) can be traced back to the Great Recession, and the rise of the Internet’s facilitation of virtually every aspect of life. “The fall in prices can be attributed in part to the 2007-8 financial crisis,” the Economist reported. “The increase in people selling sex online—where it is easier to be anonymous—has probably boosted local supply.”

Increased supply means increased competition, and lower prices in order to win customers’ business. This turn of events should put a smile on the face of folks like comedian Jim Norton, who wrote a stunning pro-paid-sex essay titled “In Defense of Johns” last week for TIME.com.

Naturally, sex workers are upset about the decline in asking prices for prostitution. An analysis by the Economist on all the different ways the Internet has impacted the oldest profession indicates that the shift online hasn’t been all bad for prostitutes, however. By being able to advertise and sell sex online, prostitutes don’t have to rely as much on brothels, pimps, or other intermediaries, so less of a sex worker’s money is going to a middleman. Selling sex on the web is certainly not safe, but it’s considered safer than streetwalking, partly because prostitutes can do rudimentary background checks on clients and share information about violent or abusive customers.

Generally speaking, however, it’s hard to come away after reading the Economist’s investigation and not be depressed. Here’s a group of workers who suffered mightily during the recession years and are still feeling its lingering effects. It’s more difficult to make a living in this trade than it has been in the past, what with clients who have less cash to spend and who have more, lower-priced options to choose from thanks to the Internet and other technology.

That description could be used to sum up the recent plight of many retail employees, travel agents, factory workers, or, heck, journalists. Instead, in this instance, it describes the situation facing women who feel forced to sell sex for money.

MORE: Dear Johns: Actually, You Should Be Ashamed to Buy Sex

TIME Sex

This Sex-Ed Book Is Way Too Sexy, Parents Complain

Sex Spelled in Alphabet Blocks
Corbis

Teaches ninth-graders about masturbation, like they've never heard of it before

California parents are complaining that a new sex-education book for ninth-graders has way too much hot, naked sex in it.

The Fremont school board voted to replace a 10-year-old sex-ed book with a new book, titled Your Health Today, which includes details about things like foreplay, masturbation and bondage.

Some parents are not happy about it. Almost 2,000 of them have signed a petition to remove the book from schools, but the school district says it has no intention of pulling it.

“There’s a section that tells you how to talk to your prospective partners about your sexual history,” parent Asfia Ahmed told the San Jose Mercury News. “I am a very liberal person, and, in spite of that, I still find the book shocking.” Other parents were appalled to find mentions of ropes, handcuffs and sex toys.

School-board president Lara Calvert-York said that despite parental objections, it’s better to educate teens early, before they become sexually active. “Ninth grade is the last time when we have an opportunity to help educate our students on how to be physically and emotionally safe,” she told the Mercury News.

[San Jose Mercury News]

 

TIME Opinion

Dear Johns: Actually, You Should Be Ashamed to Buy Sex

The Anti-Social Network Comedy Performances
Comedian Jim Norton performs during The Anti-Social Network comedy show at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on July 3, 2011 Ethan Miller—Getty Images

Jim Norton isn't entitled to sex, but women are entitled to human dignity

After a nationwide crackdown on men who buy sex in the 8th National Day of Johns Arrests earlier this week, comedian Jim Norton wrote an essay asserting his right to pay prostitutes for sex, called “In Defense of Johns.”

Don’t get me wrong, Norton is a funny guy. And I’m all for comedians pushing our social limits in stand-up, because that’s what comedy is all about. But why can’t a famous comic like him find someone who wants to have sex with him for his good looks and sparkling personality?

Norton’s essay wasn’t a joke — it was an actual argument defending the right to pay for sex. “But really, perhaps the most shameful thing I can admit is this: I’m not really ashamed,” he wrote. “And neither should any of these other (unmarried) johns who have been arrested.”

Actually, Jim, you should be ashamed to pay for sex. And so should all the other men who purchase women and girls, many of whom have been trafficked, enslaved and repeatedly raped. No amount of rationalization can get around the basic principle of market economics: if people like you didn’t buy girls, they wouldn’t be sold, and if they couldn’t be sold, they wouldn’t be trafficked and abused.

(Of course, there are also women who buy sex, and plenty of men and boys who are trafficking victims, but let’s focus on the male-client/female-sex-worker argument that Norton is going with.)

There was one part of Norton’s essay that I did find funny. It was the part where he said all the girls he buys are oh-so lucky to be with him. “I suppose you could say I am the consummate john,” he wrote. “I’m loyal, I’m dedicated and I will always come back.” He’s different from all those other nasty, mean clients, because he’s a really nice guy! “I never pick them up to be abusive,” he said. “I always feel extraordinarily loving and close to them.” Hahahahahaha, Jim Norton. Good one!

Did you ever consider, Jim, whether these girls felt “extraordinarily loving and close” to you? I’m guessing their feelings were a bit more complicated. They might have slept with you only because they would get beaten if they didn’t make a certain amount of money that night. And if you thought they enjoyed it, they were probably faking, because that’s exactly what you pay them to do. Sure, some woman do choose this line of work, and sex-workers unions argue that prostitution can be a freely made choice, but that’s not the case for the vast majority: U.S. State Department estimates that 80% of the 600,000 to 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year are trafficked for sex.

And while we don’t know what the prostitutes thought of Norton, we do know what some sex workers say about their clients. One former prostitute named Kira put it this way: “You guys think we really liked having sex with you, but we would lie to you just to get your money … I hated you when I was out there,” she told men who had been busted for buying sex, according to PBS.

Men like Norton think that their entitlement to sex trumps a woman’s entitlement to dignity and safety. Many of the women they buy are among the most vulnerable human beings on the planet, no matter how wide they smile when a john rolls down his window or plunks down his credit card. According to a report cited by the U.S. State Department, 89% of people who work in prostitution worldwide want to escape. At least 65% of people who work in prostitution were sexually abused as children, and over 60% are raped on the job, according to a 2004 study by Melissa Farley, an activist and psychologist who studies the effect of prostitution on women. And according to Polaris, a Washington, D.C.–based antitrafficking group, over 40% of people trafficked for sex are under 18. Norton says he’s spent the “equivalent of a Harvard Law School education” on sex, which is precisely what keeps trafficking victims in the sex trade.

Norton claims that legalizing prostitution would help solve these problems, but what he really means is that it would be easier for him to buy sex without his pesky conscience getting in the way of his peskier penis. Because even though there are valid arguments for the legalization of prostitution, I’m finding it hard to believe that Norton really has the best interests of sex workers in mind.

Because despite the theories, there’s very little evidence that legalizing prostitution makes life better for sex workers. Even though prostitution is legal in Nevada, over 80% of the sex workers Farley interviewed told her they wanted to escape sex work. And five years after prostitution was legalized in Germany 2002, the Family Ministry found “no solid proof to date” that the legalization had reduced crime and abuse, and had “not brought about any measurable actual improvement in the social coverage of prostitutes,” according to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Proponents say that legal prostitution can be regulated to ensure the safety of the sex workers, but German snack bars have more regulations than brothels do.

The Netherlands has also been held up as an example of what happens when prostitution is legalized, but the results are mixed. The mayor of Amsterdam said in 2003 that legalizing prostitution had failed to keep sex workers safe, since “it appeared impossible to create a safe and controllable zone for women that was not open to abuse by organized crime.”

Most arguments for legalization presume that tons of women would choose sex work if it were safe and legal, but that’s convenient wishful thinking for johns who want to let themselves off the hook. “In the real world, Julia Roberts’ character from Pretty Woman does not exist,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who organizes the National Day of Johns Arrests and advocates for harsher punishment for sex buyers. “Every time a john purchases sex, he is catalyzing a violent and oppressive industry.”

“The autonomous prostitute we envisioned when the prostitution law was enacted in 2001, who negotiates on equal terms with her client and can support herself with her income, is the exception,” German politician Thekla Walker said at a political convention. Instead, the law allows sex workers “merely the freedom to allow themselves to be exploited,” according to Der Spiegel.

Some argue that making prostitution legal could make sex workers safer, because they could call the police if a client was getting violent. But criminalizing the johns would do the same thing: prostitutes would know they won’t face jail time for calling for help, and the violent jerk would be cuffed.

That’s why targeting the johns is the best way to keep vulnerable women safe. Since Sweden introduced a measure in 1999 to target clients instead of sex workers, the population of prostitutes has been reduced by two-thirds, from 2,500 in 1998 to just 1,000 in 2013. France recently did the same, imposing fines for men who pay for sex. And even New York City prosecutors are increasingly focused on targeting buyers and pimps instead of sex workers. Because women and children will be sold as long as there are men to buy them, and when the demand for paid sex outstrips the supply of willing prostitutes, traffickers are ready to step in.

Prostitutes have been shamed and marginalized for thousands of years, but men who buy sex are considered so normal that they’re given the most ordinary name of all: john, a name shared by no less than five U.S. Presidents. Imagine the name whore was as common as john, and you’ll see how ridiculous this is — think about “Whore Quincy Adams” as our sixth President. Let’s hope we see the day when the men who choose to buy sex are shamed as much as the women who are often forced sell it. They’re the ones that should be ashamed of themselves.

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